February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Teen dating violence is a serious issue that affects a large portion of the teenage population. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status, and it can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many teens find themselves in abusive relationships and may not know how to protect themselves or seek help. That’s why it’s important for parents and other adults to be aware of the warning signs and to educate themselves on how to help.
Teen dating violence is a type of domestic violence that can occur between two people in in a romantic or intimate relationship between the ages of 13 and 19. It can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. The abuser may use violence, threats, or other forms of coercion to control their partner.
Setting an Example for Your Teenager
Parents play an important role in the cycle of abuse. Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, can shape a person’s understanding of relationships, how they interact with others, and how they view themselves. When a parent is part of the cycle of abuse, they can pass on their own patterns of behaviour to their children, which can lead to further abuse. Children may learn to accept these behaviours as ‘normal’ and continue them in their own relationships.
Parents can also pass on unhealthy coping mechanisms to their children, such as using drugs or alcohol to manage emotions, engaging in self-harm, or using violence as a way to resolve conflict. By modelling these behaviours, parents can inadvertently contribute to the cycle of abuse.
It is important for parents to be aware of the impact they have on their children, and to provide them with a safe and loving environment. Parents should strive to foster communication and respect within their family, and to be supportive and attentive to their children. Parents can also become educated on the signs of abuse and how to prevent it in their home. Ultimately, by providing a safe and supportive environment, parents can help their children break the cycle of abuse.
Teen dating violence is a serious issue that affects a significant portion of the teenage population. By educating ourselves on the warning signs and taking steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we can help prevent this type of violence and support those who have been affected.
Signs of Teen Dating Violence
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of teen dating violence, especially in the early stages of a relationship. However, there are some red flags that can indicate that a relationship may be abusive.
- Love-bombing: The abuser showers their partner with an overwhelming amount of attention, words of affirmation, and gifts. This occurs heavily in the beginning stages of a relationship, and again periodically in smaller doses throughout.
- Isolation: The abuser may try to cut their partner off from friends and family, preventing them from spending time with others or making their own decisions. This can be done in a manipulative way causing the partner to make small decisions to isolate themselves.
- Possessiveness or jealousy: The abuser may become excessively possessive or jealous, constantly checking in on their partner, trying to control who they talk to, and requesting access to their phone.
- Threats: The abuser may make threats of violence, either against their partner or against themselves, in order to control their behaviour.
- Physical violence: Physical violence is not always present in abusive relationships, but is a clear indicator, and perhaps the most obvious sign of abuse.
How To Protect Your Teenager
For parents, it’s important to talk to your teens about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse. Encourage your teen to trust their instincts and to seek help if they’re in an abusive relationship. You can also help by being supportive and non-judgmental if your teen confides in you about their relationship.
In some cases, the abuser may be an adult in the family or close to the family, including other parental figures, such as a step-parent, a parent’s partner, extended family, or family friend. These situations can make it increasingly difficult for the victim to seek help.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and seek help.
- Talk to someone you trust: Whether it’s a friend, family member, or teacher, talking to someone you trust can help you process your feelings and come up with a plan.
- Reach out to a support organization: There are many organizations that specialize in helping victims of domestic violence, including hotlines and shelters.
- Make a safety plan: If you’re in immediate danger, it’s important to have a plan for how to get away from the abuser safely.
The “Domestic Violence & Narcissism” presentation hosted by Family Law Now Live Virtual Event Series includes expertise from Ontario Family Lawyers and Social Workers.
Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers works closely with the Abrigo Centre in Toronto, Ontario. They have a youth program that specializes in supporting teenagers in family violence.
Our team has experience assisting clients in domestic violence during divorce. We have social workers on staff to help safely support our clients through the process. Contact our team to learn more.